Mental Health Patients ‘Travelling Away From Home For Treatment’

BBC Study Puts Spotlight On Issue

06.05.2014

New research has suggested mental health patients in England are being forced to travel far away from their family and home to other parts of the country in order to get access to emergency treatment.

Some patients were forced to move up to 300 miles away from their home for a specialist mental health hospital bed.

The figures compiled by the BBC in partnership with online journal Community Care revealed that 3,024 patients were forced to take such a step during 2013-14, which was more than double the amount recorded two years earlier.

It was found that the trend had emerged despite the number of admissions for mental health problems falling across the period analysed. The study also found that Kent and Sussex were the areas most affected by the issue, with both seeing significant leaps in the number of people being sent out of the counties.

Reacting to the figures, health minister Norman Lamb said it was “unacceptable” that some patients were facing long journeys for treatment.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, told the BBC that the figures reflected how “continued cuts to funding for mental health services are taking a significant toll on the quality and availability of services”.

Sometimes mental health professionals can fail in the duty of care. If you or a loved one has suffered due to professional or medical negligence we can help you to claim compensation. Visit our Mental Health Negligence Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
The safety and welfare of patients should always be a top priority for the NHS, which is why news of these issues is such a concern.

"People with mental health problems are often in a significant state of distress and in many cases this may only be exacerbated by having to travel long distances for treatment – often in locations far away from the comfort of friends and family.

"This is another indication of why it is so important that mental health is recognised on an equal footing as physical healthcare. Standards must improve to ensure that people are able to access appropriate NHS treatment, within their local community. Forcing patients to travel hundreds of miles for a specialist hospital bed could do more harm than good to a vulnerable patient."
Anne-Marie Irwin, Associate